Alberta’s Future Leaders Program
The Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA) and the Alberta Sport Connection (ASC) administer the annual Alberta Future Leaders (AFL) program for Indigenous youth. The AFL program was developed from the fundamental belief that “working together, we can make a difference,” and its vision is to work in partnership with communities to positively affect the lives of Indigenous children and youth. The program’s mission is to promote active, vibrant Indigenous communities, where local sports, recreation, arts and leadership experiences inspire youth to become positive leaders. The AFL program has partnered with 43 Indigenous communities across Alberta to create over one million participant hours of programming since its inception in 1996. There are currently 12 Indigenous communities that participate in the AFL program each year.
The Alberta Future Leaders (AFL) program provides arts, sports, recreation and leadership opportunities to help strengthen and empower youth who live in Indigenous communities in Alberta. Mentors are selected by the program organizers before the beginning of every summer, and are trained extensively to prepare them for their roles. Mentors are young adults who come from a variety of backgrounds, and who can serve as positive role models for the youth participating in the program. Over the course of the summer, mentors develop and lead arts, sports and recreation programs, as well as camps, trips, and special events to teach the youth important life skills. Select future leaders from each host community are brought together to share ideas and learn new skills. This intercultural opportunity helps the youth create strong friendships and develop their leadership potential. Upon returning home, most participants help the AFL Mentors to run programs, and many continue to serve their communities long after the summer ends.
The Arts Branch of the program selects and trains Mentors, and provides financial, moral and cultural support. The Arts Mentors live in an Alberta Indigenous community from May to August each year. Arts Mentors deliver art programming in the form of art workshops, projects and instruction in a variety of arts disciplines. An integral component of the AFA arts programming is contracting Senior Artists (established Indigenous artists) to offer workshops in the communities. Senior Artists are important role models for Indigenous youth. They inspire confidence, teach leadership skills, and an appreciation for the arts, and build the self-esteem of participants. It is often a highlight for Indigenous youth to participate in arts projects alongside role models from their culture.
For more information, please see: http://www.affta.ab.ca/Arts-In-Alberta/Albertas-Future-Leaders
The Alberta Future Leaders (AFL) program is expected to continue inspiring Indigenous youth to become positive leaders in their communities and beyond, through mentorship and new experiences in local sports, recreation, arts and leadership. The program has helped many youth aged 9-25 to build confidence, overcome barriers and realize their potential by providing them with new experiences, positive role models and opportunities. Youth who have been involved in the AFL Program are often inspired to complete high school and many continue on to pursue a post-secondary education in a variety of fields. For example, former AFL participants have gone on to become Chiefs, council members, youth workers, artists in a variety of arts disciplines, teachers, lawyers, participants in national sporting events, and many have continued to engage in arts and sports activities, projects and programs.
The Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA) allocates $140,000 CAD to the AFL Program and the Alberta Sport Connection (ASC) allocates $347,000 CAD.
The Alberta Futures Leaders program was evaluated by a Provincial Support Committee. The main conclusions of the evaluation include:
- More Indigenous communities are providing sport and recreation programming.
- Indigenous communities have increased capacity to develop and deliver sport and recreation programs.
- Barriers to sport and recreation opportunities have been reduced in Indigenous communities.
- An increased number of Indigenous youth is participating in sport and recreation programs across Alberta.
- More communities are providing culturally relevant programming.
- Indigenous communities value community development and recognize the benefits of sport and recreation.
- There is an increased capacity to develop and deliver sport and recreation programs in Indigenous communities.
- There is increased community collaboration in the development of sport and recreation programs.
- More communities, organizations and associations incorporate traditional Indigenous culture into outdoor programming.
- Volunteering is valued and increased in Indigenous communities.
- There is an increased number of provincial associations working with Indigenous communities.
- There is an increased presence of Indigenous communities at sport, recreation and events across Alberta.
- More Indigenous communities utilize available opportunities (e.g. professional development, funding, etc.) for sport and recreation.
- There is increased coordination between the Ministries involved in Indigenous programming
- More Indigenous youth participate in high performance and sport activities.